Kass Mencher's "Fixed in Eternity," Parts 3 & 4

Today we bring you the next installment in the project Kass Mencher completed earlier this year on her perceptions of Lake Atitlan, Guatemala for @exxplorevision, an Instagram community that promotes the work of women photographers. Kass and her husband Eric Mencher will lead a workshop in Santiago Atitlan in February. --Andrew Sullivan

All photos and text below courtesy of Kass Mencher.




At the lake, Lake Atitlán, you learn quickly that you are not the masters. And that you will do well to observe the rhythms of mother nature. She will richly award you with an abundance of time. There will be time enough to watch a dog frolic in the lake. You will have plenty of time to marvel as a duck bobs for lunch-time minnows and then struggles to scale the highest tree stump to be closer to the sun. You will even have 40 minutes on a Friday night to watch regimental columns of ants march away the dead carcass of a scorpion. At the lake, Lake Atitlán, there is time enough to watch, to wonder and to learn - to learn there is another way.



soft blanket sky
cover lullaby lake
cradle boat rocks
in 6/8 time
this morning
among mountains
and mist

While I am here
fears that follow
beneath forever skies
in the crossing
of an ancient lake
beside a fire and
brimstone volcano
in the night light
light years away
fears that fallow
While I am here


Kass Mencher's "Fixed in Eternity," Parts 1 & 2

During her long visits to Lake Atitlan, Guatemala over the past eight years Kass Mencher has deepened her connection to this mystical place. She completed a body of work earlier this year on her relationship with Lake Atitlan for @exxplorevision, an Instagram community that promotes the work of women photographers. Over the next couple of weeks, we will share the photographs and writing that Kass produced for that project. Thanks for following along. -Andrew Sullivan

All photos and text below courtesy of Kass Mencher.


feeding the goddess

she rises from the ashes

to dance away fear

Located in the Guatemalan highlands, Lake Atitlán was called too much of a good thing by writer Aldous Huxley. Atitlán means the place where the rainbow comes to get its color. And it's true: the fruits, the flowers, the textiles are rich in multicolored hues that combine to form rainbows of uncommon beauty. But be wary of color. It can be intoxicating. It can seduce, deceive and conceal the true nature of a thing. When at Lake Atitlán I am compelled to make images about what is sensed but not necessarily seen.

The Maya believe Lake Atitlán is a sacred, living being harboring the world's navel within its depths. Its unsnipped umbilical cord holding the sky and the earth together. It is a spiritual and healing center attracting people from afar today as it has done since at least 300 B.C.



boat dock meets park bench
he sits - fishing
i sit - doing yoga
he moves with a grace
i can only dream of
i'm mesmerized by the music
in his hands
as he casts out his line
just when i think
to pick up my phone
he stands
his profile a silhouette in stillness
before he turns slowly from the hips
stopping when his chest faces forward
fierce proud defiant fearless
balancing on the edge of infinity
he waits
a muelle matador carved out of shadow
i pick up my phone
our worlds intersect
in 1/250th of a second
he returns to fishing
i return to yoga
i can't help but feel
something has changed

Join Eric & Kass Mencher at Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

From February 18-23, 2018, Eric and Kass Mencher will teach a workshop in Santiago Atitlan, Guatemala. Only twelve spaces will be open for the opportunity to explore this iconic region, experiment with different photographic ideas, and experience centuries-old Mayan culture. Over the past eight years, Kass and Eric have spent extensive amounts of time here, and have extensive knowledge of the region and the people who live here. The workshop students will explore landscape, still life, portraiture, and street photography. Where it's going to get really interesting is discovering the overlaps between the different disciplines. A detailed itinerary, more information, and a sign-up page can be found here: http://www.seekworkshops.com/select-workshop/lake-atitlan-guatemala-mencher

Diptychs above by Kass Mencher and Eric Mencher

Back from The Ranch....

I just completed a week as a presenter at the remarkable destination spa Rancho La Puerta in Tecate, Baja California.  Apart from the obvious benefits of early morning hikes up the mountain, spectacular healthy cuisine, beautiful surroundings, wonderful guests and the overall great vibe of the place, it was a very gratifying week in terms of the teaching. I merged content from my workshops The Good Eye and The Zen of Seeing. As it’s a weekly program focusing on well being—physical and mental—the big tagline was “Use your iphone to tune in rather than tune out.”

My students ranged from experienced professional photographers to those having little or no experience, but wanting to improve their photographic eye shooting with their iphones. It was a challenging format to work with—only four presentations each lasting forty five minutes, as opposed to the standard weeklong workshop offering opportunities for assignments, exercises and critiques. In response to my usual performance anxiety before teaching any workshop, my friends were thinking I was nuts, as it was only a total of 3 hours to prepare for as opposed to 30.

It’s common knowledge in creative communities that limitations often create more infinite possibilities—hence my challenge. And then there was the issue of how to really embed any significant learning so as to add value in such a small amount of time—how to ignite the spark of refreshed ‘seeing’? How to shift perspectives? It was a great exercise with an unexpected result. I learned there is much to be said for having to hone communication of certain aspects of visual discernment and concepts about aesthetics down to their essence—a real back-to-basics approach...that still resonates with more experienced photographers. What’s most important in the dialogue; what to leave in, what to take out?

Somehow, by honing in on the most quintessential aspects of seeing, beauty, and photographic vision; a more universal language emerged, bridging all experience levels in the group. We weren’t just talking about how to take a great photograph, we were re-learning how to see, how to create great imagery by taking ‘subject’ and ‘outcome’ out of the equation and focusing more on the process of SEEING itself. Much of the time we weren’t talking about photography at all; rather, how the mind works in relation to seeing, and how it can be such an enlivening and expanding practice to educate our eye in this way; to see beauty everywhere and in everything—very often in the form of abstraction. It’s about re-framing our vision so as to open up to endless possibilities in front of us always, but often overlooked—to see the ART in everything around us, all the time. There was tremendous synergy with other presenters who were speaking about managing stress in our lives and mindfulness practices--the need to re-frame our thinking.

The shorter time frame was a wonderful opportunity to see a beautiful structure emerge after years of pondering the best way to combine these ideas. Ironically, through the distillation process of the two workshops, normally both week long, we went deeper into the connections between the quality our our seeing and how it affects our day to day lives. The results were palpable.

 A big Thank You and shout out to all my co-conspirators, who apart from making some serious strides in their photography, made it a very enlivening….and eye opening week:) EW


elizabeth watt

Elizabeth has been recognized as one of the industry’s top still life and food photographers for over 20 years. She studied photography at the Newhouse School at Syracuse University. With an extensive technical background, Elizabeth draws her inspiration from painting, collage, sculpture and nature.  Her commercial work has a distinctly artistic focus. Her work has appeared in numerous magazines such as Food & Wine, Gourmet, Bon Appetite, Martha Stewart Living, Body and Soul, Town and Country, O Magazine, Fortune Magazine and The New York Times Magazine. Her commercial clients have included Campbell’s, Proctor & Gamble, Colgate Palmolive, Pepperidge Farms, Kraft,  General Mills,  Bath and Bodyworks, American Express, Neiman Marcus and Rosewood Resorts. She has many award winning book covers to her credit, and countless cookbooks, and has been featured in both Graphis and Communication Arts Magazines.


Elizabeth also enjoys teaching Photography and Creative Process both in academia and the corporate world. She has been an adjunct professor of photography at the Newhouse School at Syracuse University, and a guest lecturer at The School of Visual Arts and Parsons in NYC, as well as running workshops and seminars at various locations around the country.


Elizabeth blogs on the subjects of creativity, seeing, and photography at www.create-shift.com/blog. After completing an executive coaching certificate through NYU's School of Leadership and Human Capital Management, Elizabeth also helps people shift their mindsets and create habits to support creative output. More of this work can be seen at www.create-shift.com.

In addition to photography, Elizabeth is currently working on a book on how to leverage the creative mindset in the service of everyday productivity. She currently lives in San Miguel de Allende